A Challenging Agenda for Troubled Times: The Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy

Citation:

Kouvo, Sari. 2020. “A Challenging Agenda for Troubled Times: The Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy.” Retfærd 4: 65-88.

Author: Sari Kouvo

Abstract:

In 2014, the Swedish Government declared that it was a feminist government. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström also took the opportunity to announce that Sweden would become the first country in the world to adopt a feminist foreign policy. The feminist banner was raised at a time when Europe, including Sweden, was grappling with what has come to be called the migration crisis and a rise in violent extremism across ideological, political and religious boundaries, and when the world seemed to be shifting further into conflict mode. This is also a time when notions of feminism and gender equality are as furiously promoted as they are contested. The aim of this article is first, to situate the Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy in the broader context of Swedish equality politics and foreign policy. Second, to discuss how the term feminism used in the policy and what the overall contents of the policy are. Third, to problematize the policy through two examples focusing on the one hand on the challenge of a braver politics and on the other hand on the in-built tension between Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy and the Swedish trade and defence interests and in particular Swedish arms trade. The article focuses on developments during the first government term, 2014–2018, but it will also touch upon the developments during the second government term, 2019–2022. The article shows that the Policy has made a difference. It has raised awareness and built knowledge of women’s rights and equality within the Ministry and helped ensure that these issues are systematically integrated into much of foreign policy. The fact that the Policy has continued after the elections and is now being taken forward for another government term has helped institutionalise the policy and may also have increased international interest. 

Topics: Feminisms, Feminist Foreign Policy, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2020

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